Contemporary Crunchings | Verve Magazine
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Wine & Dine
September 18, 2014

Contemporary Crunchings

Text by Nittal Chandarana

Fine-dining meets street treat as Mumbai restaurants serve up a combo storm

  • The Spare Kitchen, Contemporary Crunchings
    Papad Platter, The Spare Kitchen
  • Contemporary Crunchings, Copa
    Watermelon Bloody Mary, Copa
  • Masala Library, Contemporary Crunchings
    Ghevar Cheesecake, Masala Library

As much as we enjoy savouring a carefully prepared and garnished meal at any premier fine-dining restaurant in the city, nothing beats the gastronomic pleasure of munching on greasy pani puris at our favourite seedy joint. Gourmand restaurateurs only know this too well and we have begun to see versions of street food fare on their distinguished menus. The very places that waxed eloquent about impeccable hygiene and food-of-the-gods offerings, have blended high-street with street and revamped the idea of a classy meal. Now, it might seem a bit much to be shelling out hundreds for ‘Chilled Coconut Water’ at a fancy bar or order Mumbai Bhel salad at a new joint but these do enchant the whims and fancies of the population of a metro that celebrates the opening of a new restaurant every week and engulfs Instagram with enchanting food snaps. If it’s different; we love it. If it endorses Bambaiya flavour; we’re sold.

The Spare Kitchen, Juhu, gave us PavBhaji Tostadas, which was basically, mini pav bhaji and a helping of VadaPav Masala Paratha. Among other delights on the menu, we found Couscous Kachumbar, Strawberry Malai Cheesecake, and a Gulab Jamun Flambee. We looked for other restaurants that offered food on these lines and noted that there’s still quite a number on the foodie trail we haven’t visited. Here’s our wish list.

In Juhu itself, there’s Copa. Run by the guys who own Silver Beach Café and Nom Nom, this one offers a fusion in both their drinks and food menus. Samosa sliders and Bombay Ishtyle Pizza to accompany house cocktails (Off the Street Gola) or indulge in Kama Sutra shooters. There’s also a special Maximum City shooter as a tribute to the bay. We like! Branching out north, there’s a new place open at Versova (where WTF stood) – Treesome Café. Oh, how we’d love to try Rajnikanth Style Masala Omelette with a Jamun Mojito. It’s almost poetic. Almost. Friday night junkies found their new haunt in He Said She Said, a new bar at Andheri, notorious for its fine shots. One can start with a Nimbu Paani shot, move on to a Delhi 6 and then fake-sober it all up with a Masala Chai shot. There’s also a Mumbai Special trio of Chai Maila, Majama Che and Garam Dharam. The weekend is nigh.

Of course, Bandra seals the deal with Pali Bhavan and the much-hyped (for all the right reasons) Masala Library. Of cuisine exclusively Indian, Pali Bhavan played its part in plumping up the city with its Mini Vada Pav and Paan Kulfi. Then came Jiggs Kalra’s Masala Library with molecular food and arresting presentation. Who can resist the Mishti Doi Lollypop and the Jalebi Caviar? And Ghevar cheesecake…and paan-flavoured candy floss. As if this wasn’t enough, South Bombay lamented (and received) its very own combo joint. The Bombay Bronx at Breach Candy more than fulfilled SoBo food cravings. An eclectic menu of Dhokla Pakoda, Krispee Spinach (their spelling), Pav Bhaji Sandwis (as mentioned before) and Bombay Dabba await, to be washed down with say, a Pani Puri Caipirojka (duh)? Or an Imli Mojito.

This trend is catching up quick – Mumbai restaurants have been going ga-ga over it for a while. Of course, Indian Accent at Delhi began this food frenzy way back in 2009, and what a hit it was! They have  a truckload of awards to validate their worth and this one’s still considered one of the best restaurants India has. At the very thought of these remarkable concoctions, we find our taste buds doing a merry jig. Bon appetit.

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